Creating Wealth

In "Creating Wealth", co-authors Gwendolyn Hallsmith & Bernard Lietaer demonstrate how a healthy society can be attained through developing new systems of exchange.

| April 2013

Creating Wealth (New Society Publishers, 2011) co-written by Gwendolyn Hallsmith & Bernard Lietaer demonstrates how using creative initiatives such as time banks, systems of barter and exchange and local currencies, cities and towns can empower themselves and build vibrant, healthy, sustainable local economies.  

"The reason saving comes before investing is that you need to have seed before you can sow it in anticipation of a harvest." -Rajen Devadason  

Neo-feudal Housing: The New Lords and Serfs  

Home ownership has been one of the cornerstones of the American dream for almost a century. As early as in the 1920s, Better Homes in America, Inc. worked with the Department of Commerce to promote housing as an economic development strategy, knowing that the construction of homes would provide jobs and other multiplied economic benefits.

It wasn’t until 1939 that the largest housing subsidy in US history was invented — the deduction on income taxes for the interest paid on mortgages. This, combined with federal mortgage insurance, the GI Bill for soldiers coming home from World War II and the mass production of automobiles, has shaped the ways in which our housing has developed ever since. Our homes are often our only source of equity — a cornerstone of the wealth we are able to accumulate in hope of securing a comfortable life.

In 2008, this clever combination of strategies — housing construction that creates jobs, mortgages that produce interest for the financial system and home ownership as a way to build wealth — collapsed on themselves and brought the rest of the financial system with them, creating the largest economic crisis in the US since the Great Depression. The genesis of the sub-prime crisis of 2008 illuminates the problems at the root of the financial system, but also points to a way forward out of the mess.